Lionesses celebrating

Lionesses pen open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss after Department for Education refuses to give girls equal access to football in PE lessons

Posted by for Strength

Just days after England won Euro 2022 at Wembley, the government has made a u-turn over its commitment to provide girls with football lessons – and the Lionesses aren’t happy about it. 

The Lionesses have penned an open letter to the two remaining Tory leadership candidates, demanding that girls be given equal access to football at school. The letter, signed by every player in the 2022 Uefa Women’s Euro England squad, asks that on becoming prime minister on 5 September, Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss helps to cement the legacy of the games by ensuring that every girl in the UK is able to play football at school.

At the moment, just 63% of girls have access to the game during PE lessons – and the team believes that following their success at Wembley, more will want to play. By not offering it at school, those girls risk being turned away.

“This is something that we all experienced growing up,” the letter says. “We were often stopped from playing. So we made our own teams, we travelled across the country and despite the odds, we just kept playing football.”

Ellen White’s battle to play football went viral on Twitter earlier today, having been banned from her local youth team. Veteran Arsenal and England legend Rachel Yankey has openly spoken on Jill Scott’s Coffee Club podcast about shaving her hair and going by the name Ray to pass as a boy in order to play football as a child.

The letter stresses that this generation of school girls deserve more. “They deserve to play football at lunchtime, they deserve to play football in PE lessons and they deserve to believe they can one day play for England. We want their dreams to come true.”

It comes the day after the Department for Education refused to ensure that all girls would be able to play football in PE, with the government saying that schoolgirls can’t be guaranteed the same football lessons as boys. Instead, they can be offered the chance to play a ‘comparable’ sport. 

The i paper reported that just 44% of secondary schools offer the same football lessons to girls and boys, despite calls from headteachers, the Football Association and grassroots clubs to capitalise on the current interest in the women’s sport.

The question now is, should she come to power, whether Liz Truss –who was at Wembley alongside Nadine Dorris – will actually prove she’s not just a fair weather fan. 

Images: Getty/Twitter

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Miranda Larbi

Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.